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GTD is Not About Doing Everything On Your List


Productivity gurus will always tell you that ticking off all the items on your checklist is the ultimate win. 

So you walk out of the arena proudly like the heavyweight champion of the WWE who took on all the tasks.

I’ll admit, in theory that’s an encouraging thought.

But in practice, not so much. After all, who are we kidding? We all secretly know that WWE was never real. It’s scripted. 

Have you noticed this? You make an ambitious, long running scroll of endless to -do’s.

As you make progress in checking them off, you find your list growing and growing… leaving you feeling overwhelmed with too much to do.

Here’s something I need to remind you…

Your Lists Will Never Get Done

If you approach productivity by measuring the volume of completed tasks vs incomplete ones, you are putting yourself on the chase of an elusive goal.

A lot like aiming at a moving goal post. Productivity will only seem further away. 

Two reason for this:

  • As human beings, we are prone to the tendency of overestimation of one’s own performance 
  • Every passing moment we find ourselves adding more goals to what we originally set out for.

Think of it like the mystical Akshay Patra, from ancient fables.

It’s a never depleting vessel of food. As the food comes close to getting exhausted, more food appears. 

The food never stops appearing, you never finish eating.

Goals are a lot like that.

More is not always better.

And because we tie our productivity meter to an unquantifiable number, we set ourselves up for unhappiness, stress and guilt.

View Your to-Do as Options, Instead of Obligations

GTD helped me realize that the point of making the list is not to get everything done, but to get clear on what my commitments are.

With that clarity, you get the freedom to decide what to do and what not to do.

You can be comfortable about saying “No” to the other things on your list because you are clear about what you want to say “Yes” to.

And I say “yes” to those things that most contribute to my life’s purpose.

When I approach my list with this way of thinking, my lists no longer give me stress.

I’m no longer overwhelmed if my list is long. Infact long lists give me more options to choose from.

So I can get the things I need to get done and not worry about the things I am not doing.

It’s a simple yet effective practice that has added a lot of guilt-free, stress-free time to my life, and I am sure it will do the same for you too.

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